WASHINGTON A meeting planned on Thursday between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders following big Republican gains at the expense of Obama's Democrats in the November 2 elections has been postponed until November 30.
Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the meeting was put off at the request of Republican leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives due to as scheduling conflict. In the elections Republicans won control of the House and cut the Democratic lead in the Senate.
Political and economic analysts hope the meeting will show the approach both sides will take over key issues, including whether to extend tax cuts expiring at the end of the year and ways to cut the huge budget deficit and create more jobs.
Obama is hoping to get Republican backing in the Senate to ratify the New START nuclear treaty with Russia by the end of the year, but he suffered a serious setback on Tuesday when a key Republican senator said there was not enough time this year to resolve remaining differences.
A spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, commenting on the revised date for the meeting, said he was encouraged that Obama wanted to discuss issues on which both political parties agree.
"We'll have a meeting so that we can discuss issues that Republicans have long said can be accomplished together," spokesman Don Stewart said. "These include reducing spending, growing jobs through increased trade and increasing domestic energy."
Obama faces a threat by Republican leaders to try to roll back his signature policies, including a healthcare overhaul and Wall Street reform, and to block his agenda for the rest of his term.
After the elections, Obama called for "putting politics aside" as he struck a conciliatory tone with victorious Republicans, saying he was open to hearing their ideas for tackling stubbornly high unemployment.
The White House had said the tax discussion would also be a main topic in the meeting originally planned for Thursday.
On November 4, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs signaled that Obama might consider a compromise with Republicans that would keep tax breaks not only for the middle-class but for wealthier Americans as well.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen and Ross Colvin; Editing by Eric Walsh)